In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Spearfish, South Dakota
Lawrence County

July 1, 1930 -- April 22, 1951
Killed in Action in Korea


Herbert “Hal” A. Littleton was born July 1, 1930, in Mena, Arkansas, to Paul and Maude Littleton. Herbert had two brothers: Charles and M.K. and a half-sister, Mary. The family moved to the Spearfish area in 1931 but when WW II started, they moved to Washington where there was work in the shipyards and Hal attended elementary school. When the Littleton family moved back to Black Hawk, South Dakota, Hal went to high school in Sturgis where he is remembered for playing basketball and football. Later in the service he became an expert marksman and a boxer as well. After high school, Hal worked at the Electrical Appliance Co. in Rapid City before he enlisted in the Marine Corps. His family remembers him as “a loving, polite young man with an infectious sense of humor and a big smile.” They also said of him: “He had a tough resolve of right and wrong-the true character of a hero.” His brother Chuck recalls, “He was also tough and wasn’t afraid of anything.”

He entered the service at Black Hawk in the Marines on July 29, 1948. He went to basic training in San Diego, California and then on for more training at Camp Pendleton, California before being sent overseas and arriving on the front lines in Korea on December 17, 1950 as a radio operator for Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines,1st Marine Division (Reinforced).

Private First Class Herbert A. Littleton died with honor for our country on April 22, 1951 at Chungohon, Korea. He was standing watch when an enemy force launched a night attack against his company. Private First Class Littleton alerted his company and went into position to call down artillery fire on the hostile forces. A hand grenade was then thrown into his sight. Being the honorable and courageous man he was, he jumped onto the grenade to save his team from death or serious injury. He sacrificed his life to save many comrades. He was just 20 years old.

For his heroism, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration for valor; the citation read in part: “His indomitable valor in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon Private First Class Littleton and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.” The citation was signed by President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.

The body of Private First Class Littleton was later returned to the United States and buried at Kohler Lawn Cemetery in Nampa, Idaho. Besides his Medal of the Honor, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal with one Bronze Star, and the United Nation Service Medal. Private First Class Littleton also had a memorial dedicated to him at Spearfish City Park in Spearfish, South Dakota. In Twentynine Palms, California, the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School had their mess hall named for Hal; the Littleton Hall was dedicated on November 6, 1998. Chuck’s wife, Donna, said of the honor: “Our family has always known that Hal was a hero, but we really didn’t know what that meant until we saw what it meant to the soldiers at Twentynine Palms.”

Private First Class Herbert A. Littleton was a very brave man. I will remember his bravery and honor in fighting for our country.

     Littleton Medal of Honor Memorial, Spearfish City Park


This entry was respectfully submitted by Rebecca M. Sachau, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 14, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by the South Dakota National Guard Museum, via Charles and Donna Littleton, Whitewood, a newspaper article in the Rapid City Journal, and http://koreanwarmemorial.sd.gov/. Profile approved by Charles Littleton, brother.